Playing national anthem in movie theatres not mandatory, says Supreme Court

In an affidavit filed before the court, the government had yesterday said that it has formed an inter-ministerial committee to frame new guidelines and decide further course of action.

Published: 09th January 2018 01:17 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th January 2018 05:23 PM   |  A+A-

Representational image. People standing for national anthem after a SC ruling. | (File Photo)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today made the playing of the national anthem in cinema halls before a screening of movies optional, modifying its earlier order.

The apex court modified its November 30, 2016, order by which it had made the playing of the anthem mandatory in cinema halls before the screening of a film.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said a 12-member inter-ministerial committee, set up by the Centre, would take a final call on the playing of the national anthem in the cinemas.

The Centre's decision had come after the top court had in October last year observed that the people "cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves" and it cannot be assumed that if a person does not stand up for the national anthem, he or she is "less patriotic".

Observing that the society did not need "moral policing", the court had then said that next time, "the government will want people to stop wearing T-shirts and shorts to cinemas saying this would disrespect the national anthem."

The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said the committee should comprehensively look into all the aspects relating to the playing of national anthem and allowed the petitioners to make representations before the panel.

The bench, while disposing of the petitions pending before it, made it clear that the exemption granted earlier to disabled persons from standing in the cinema halls when the national anthem is being played, shall remain in force till the committee takes a decision.

The top court accepted the government's affidavit which said the 12-member panel has been set up to suggest changes in the 1971 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the bench that the committee will submit its report within six months.

The Centre had yesterday told the apex court that an inter-ministerial committee has been set up as extensive consultations were needed for framing of guidelines describing the circumstances and occasions on which the national anthem is to be played or sung and observance of proper decorum on such occasions.

The government had said that the top court may "consider the restoration of status quo ante until then, that is the restoration of the position as it stood before the order passed by this court on November 30, 2016" as it mandated the playing of the anthem in cinemas before a feature film starts.

The inter-ministerial committee headed by Additional Secretary (Border Management), Ministry of Home Affairs, with representatives from various other ministries, including the Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Culture, Woman and Child Development and Parliamentary Affairs.

It would also have representatives of the Ministries of Information and Broadcasting and Minority Affairs, Department of Legal Affairs, Department of School Education and Literacy and the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disability, the affidavit filed by Centre said.

The apex court had on October 24 last year observed that people do not need to stand up in the cinema halls to prove their patriotism and had asked the Centre to consider amending the rules for regulating playing of the national anthem in the theatres.

"People go to cinema halls for undiluted entertainment.

Society needs entertainment. We cannot allow you (Centre) to shoot from our shoulders. People do not need to stand up in cinema halls to prove their patriotism," the bench had said.

"Desirability is one thing but making it mandatory is another. Citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves and courts cannot inculcate patriotism among people through its order," it had said.

The court's strong remarks had come during the hearing on a PIL filed last year by Shyam Narayan Chouksey seeking a direction that the national anthem be played in all cinema halls before the start of the screening of a film.

The apex court had in its November 30, 2016, order said that "love and respect for the motherland is reflected when one shows respect to the national anthem as well as to the national flag".

It had also barred printing of the anthem or a part of it on any object and displaying it in such a manner at places which may be "disgraceful to its status and tantamount to disrespect".

Passing a slew of directions, the court had said that fundamental duties in the Constitution "do not allow any different notion or the perception of individual rights that have individual thought, have no space. The idea is constitutionally impermissible".

It had also said proper norms and protocol should be fixed regarding its playing and singing at official functions and programmes where those holding constitutional office are present.

All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) President Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision.

“I totally welcome the order of the Supreme Court. Under the previous order, many people were harassed, especially people from the minority community, who were physically handicapped were targetted by all so-called vigilantes who support the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)," he said.

(With ANI inputs)

Stay up to date on all the latest Nation news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp